When Gene Chizik and Lane Kiffin shook hands on the field after the game, I doubt that they were thinking about all of the pre-game BS about when they last faced each other.
They were focused on the game at hand. I’m convinced the fans were the same way. No one but the media cared about the story the media was trying to manufacture.
So, focusing on the game at hand…
There were times tonight when I was nervous.
1) We’ve had to come behind in each game and then establish ourselves. Not that it’s a bad thing to lead from start to finish, but still I thought about it.
2) When Wes Byrum missed the field goal toward the end of the first half and Tennessee drove down the field to get a TD, I worried that we might have given them momentum. It just had too much in the “shades of last year” department.
3) As we seemed unable to stop them on 4th down and Crompton seemed to be hitting his receivers, I began to worry. When Auburn held UT to a field goal to make it a 7-point game in the 4th quarter, I finally thought we had it.
So where does this leave us.
Auburn will gain a little respect for beating UT on the road. However, the garbage TD at the end will hurt. In 2004, both UGA and Alabama scored garbage TDs at the end of the game, hurting Auburn as pollsters often only look at the final score and not the game itself. (Granted, I may be living in a fantasy world there. Last week, the pollsters had Penn State ahead of Iowa and Cal ahead of Oregon.)
Any respect will be short-lived. Next week, Auburn travels to Arkansas, a place where we’ve always had trouble. In my preseason predictions, I mentioned I thought Auburn would lose this game. Now, I’m not so sure. It could be a test of both will and nerve.
Auburn may finally crack the Top 25. Cal and Michigan should drop out. Maybe even Houston, though I expect they will stay in. For now, let’s just enjoy the game, the road victory, and the knowledge that all we can do is win the games on our schedule.
Haven’t seen a time frame for next week’s game. Hope it might be earlier. These late night postings wear me out.